Is Special Edition the definitive cut of Mass Effect 3?
Published on Dec 13, 2012
Not quite, but the Straight Right re-tooled edition of BioWare’s headline bating super blockbuster is still an admirable attempt at earning it’s Special Edition sub moniker. With the Wii U now sitting comfortably on retailers’ shelves there’s a plethora of games for you to grease your gaming wheels with this Christmas.
The obvious heavy hitters are Mario and ZombiU, each of which have taken advantage of the machine’s unique abilities in their own way. And then there is the mishmash of additional third party games that are essentially ports of current 360 and PS3 titles such as Batman: Arkham City, Assassin’s Creed 3, and this, Mass Effect 3.
If you’re not familiar with the space opera’s galactic fable, Straight Right will quickly bring you up to speed via the freshly reworked edition of the Genesis motion that was originally slung onto the PlayStation 3 edition. In it you’ll get to see the entire story so far as well as make a series of choices across Mass Effect and its sequel, Mass Effect 2. It’s not exactly the ideal way to experience two of this generation’s finest games considering the length and breath of both games.
Still, it successfully manages to set the scene, gearing you up for what’s ahead in this, the final chapter of Commander Shepard’s sprawling saga. Mass Effect 3: Special Edition is a difficult one to recommend considering Electronic Arts has just rolled out the Mass Effect Trilogy on Xbox and PC, and the Wii U edition won’t include any downloadable content beyond what you’ll find on this silvery spinner.
That includes the day one From Ashes add-on, the Extended Cut DLC that shines additional light on the story’s controversial conclusion and the Resurgence, Rebellion and Earth game packs that were originally shipped for Mass Effect 3’s Galaxy at War co-op mode. That means Wii U owners still miss out on some of the more recent game packs including the just shipped Omega.
The only truly exclusive content is a heavy weapon, a rocket launcher capable of firing clusters of missiles with that lock onto enemies. Sure, it’s a cool weapon but is it really enough to recommend another play through at this price? No, not really. Of course, the most obvious addition to the entire Mass Effect 3 package is that of the Wii U Gamepad, which enhances the functionality of the game ever so slightly.
The second screen now serves as an area map, which may sound dull but is actually quite nifty, especially when you’re looking to pinpoint enemy locations and mission markers speedily. You can also use the Gamepad to assign squad powers to multiple slots on the touchscreen, as well as it using it to send squad members to strategic positions on the map with a simple slide of the finger.
It’s an interesting approach that certainly adds a little extra pop to the gameplay, while quietly delivering an extremely efficient battle mechanic once you get to grips with it.
You can, however, opt to play the entire game on using the Wii U’s Pro Controller, which negates the aforementioned game mechanics with the exception of the rocket launcher, providing a much more familiar gaming experience. But if you wanted that, you wouldn’t be reading this now would you? We like to think you’d be playing the Mass Effect Trilogy instead.
Visually, the Wii U version is on par with the 360, both versions appearing to be fairly indistinguishable upon first glance. Look a little closer and you’ll notice a small, but not game breaking, dip in the frame rate and a little loss of colour in comparison to the 360 and PS3 cuts.
In the end Mass Effect 3: Special Edition is still a great game. In fact, the original was one of the best games of 2012, but with Nintendo’s hardware sorely lacking in the first two chapters it really is an incredibly tough one to call.
Like Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham City – Armored Edition, if you’ve already played through the original then there really isn’t much here to see. If, however, you’ve not and own neither an Xbox or a PlayStation 3 then you should seriously consider picking this one up, or at the very least doling out an extended rental over the Xmas holidays.
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If you can get past the lack of the originals and the price, Mass Effect 3: Special Edition still remains of the year’s best gaming experiences.